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Canada (161,665)
Psychology (9,695)
PSYB32H3 (1,174)
Chapter 16


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Konstantine Zakzanis

Chapter 16Aging and Psychological Disorders most segments of North American society tend to have certain assumptions about old age in contrast to the esteem in which they are held in most Asian countries older adults are generally not treated very well in North America and numerous myths abound the general public endorses many mistaken beliefs about the elderly for instance considerably mythology has surrounded sexuality and aging the principal assumption being that at the age of 65 sex becomes improper unsatisfying and even impossible however older people well into their 80s and beyond are capable of deriving enjoyment from sexual intercourse and other kinds of lovemaking the social problems of aging may be especially severe for women although grey hair at the temples and even a bald head are often considered distinguished in a man signs of aging in women are not valued in society ageismdiscrimination against someone because of hisher age the physical realities of aging are complicated by ageism which can be defined as discrimination against any person young or old based on chronological age like any prejudice ageism ignores the diversity among people in favor of employing stereotypesin any discussion of the differences between the old and the not yet old the old are usually defined as those over the age of 65 the decision to use this age was set largely by social policies to have some rough demarcation separation points gerontologists usually divide people over 65 into 3 groups the youngold those aged 6574 the oldold those aged 7584 and the oldestold those over age 85 the health of these groups differs in important waysIssues Concepts and Methods in the Study of Older AdultsDiversity in Older Adults the word diversity is well suited to the older population not only are older people different from one another but theyre more different from one another than are individuals in any other age group people tend to become less alike as they grow olderAge Cohort and TimeofMeasurement Effects in the field of aging as in studies of earlier development a distinction is made among 3 kinds of effectsage effectsare the consequences of being a given chronological age eg Jewish boys are bar mitzvahed at age 13cohort effectsare the consequences of having been born in a given year and having grown up during a particular time period with its own unique pressures problems challenges and opportunities eg people who invested money in the stock market in the late 1990s view investments in equities as a reasonably safe and very lucrative place to put their moneyunlike people who lost a lot of money in the bear markets of the 1930s or late 1960stimeofmeasurement effectsare confounds that arise because events at an exact point in time can have a specific effect on a variable being studied over time eg time of measurement could affect the results of studies assessing PTSD in Holocaust survivors if one of the assessments occurs shortly after 911 the 2 major research designs used to assess developmental change are the crosssectional and the longitudinal in crosssectional studies the investigator compares different age groups at the same moment in time on the variable of interestcrosssectional studiesstudies in which different age groups are compared at the same time crosssectional studies do not examine the same people over time consequently they allow us to make statements only about age effects in a particular study or experiment not about changes over time in longitudinal studies the researcher selects one cohortsay the graduating class of 2002and periodically retests it using the same measure over a number of yearslongitudinal studiesinvestigation that collects information on the same individuals repeatedly over time perhaps over many years in an effort to determine how phenomena change longitudinal studies allows researchers to trace individual patterns of consistency or change over timecohort effectsand to analyze how behavior early in life relates to behavior in old age however because each cohort is unique conclusions drawn from longitudinal studies are restricted to the cohort chosen an additional problem with longitudinal studies is that participants often drop out as the studies proceed creating a bias commonly called selective mortality selective mortalitya possible confound in longitudinal studies whereby the less healthy people in a sample are more likely to drop out of the study over time the leastable people are the most likely to drop out leaving a nonrepresentative group of people who are usually healthier than the general population thus findings based on longitudinal studies may be overly optimistic about the rate of decline of a variable such as sexual activity over the lifespan Diagnosing and Assessing Psychopathology in Later Life the DSMIVTR criteria for older adults are basically the same as those for younger adults the nature and manifestations of mental disorders are usually assumed to be the same in adulthood and old age even though little research supports this assumptiona measure of cognitive functioning is often included as standard practice in research to determine whether the elderly respondent has experienced declines in cognitive abilityresearchers often assess cognitive functioning with the MiniMental State Examination MMSE in its original or modified form ie the Modified MiniMental State Exam the MMSE is a brief measure of an individuals cognitive state assessing orientation memory and attention ability to name follow verbal and written commands write a sentence spontaneously and copy a complex polygon because some elderly people will have diminished attention spans one goal is to develop short but reliable measures suitable for screening purposes one relatively simple measure used to detect dementia and Alzheimers disease is the clock drawing subtest of the Clock Test in this test respondents are presented with a previously drawn circle 7cm in diameter and are asked to imagine that the circle is the face of a clock and to put the numbers on the clock and then draw the hand placement for the time of 1110 up to 25 different types of errors can occurthis test has been found to be reliable and valid another assessment goal is to create measures whose item content is tailored directly to the concerns and symptoms reported by elderly people not to those of younger respondentsone wellknown measure crafted for the elderly is the Geriatric Depression Scale GDS a truefalse selfreport measure the GDS has acceptable psychometric characteristics and is regarded as the standard measure for assessing depression in the elderlyst the Geriatric Suicide Ideation Scale GSIS is a new 31 item measure that is the 1 measure of suicide ideation created specifically for the elderly the GSIS has a 10item suicide ideation scale as well as 3 other subscales tapping death ideation loss of personal and social work and the perceived meaning in life Range of Problems as a group no other people have more of these problems than the aged they have them all physical decline and disabilities sensory and neurological deficits loss of loved one the cumulative effects of a lifetime of many unfortunate experiences and social stresses such as ageism
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